Charles Stafford: DISD bond passage a great effort by all

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On Nov. 5, voters in the Denton school district approved a $312 million bond package with more than 68 percent of the voters voting for the bonds.

The final vote count was 5,984 for the proposal and 2,798 voting against it. In 2007, the vote for the $282 million bond election was 3,969 votes or 59 percent of the vote, with 2,739 voting against it. This 2013 election’s vote count of 5,984 was 2,015 more for votes than the last school bond election. This was the largest turnout and the largest margin of victory in our district’s history.

The number of residents voting in this bond election was a huge milestone for the school district’s students because the school bond addressed growth, facility improvements and energy conservation.

The main goal of this election was to add more classroom space for our growing student population. For example, all three of our comprehensive high schools — Denton, Guyer and Ryan — are over capacity.

In the six years since the district’s last bond election, Denton ISD’s enrollment has grown by almost 28 percent — from 20,892 to 26,320, which is enough students to fill four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

To accommodate this growth, the district has added more than one million square feet to our total facilities.

Amazingly, due to the board’s aggressive energy conservation policies and practices, this additional space has not added to our overall utility bill. Part of this bond will be used to continue the process of “tightening up” our buildings and saving even more taxpayer dollars.

We are extremely pleased with the voter turnout and response, and want to thank everyone who participated in this election process. It’s important for our students to see that the adults in their district are exercising their right to vote, and more importantly, to know that their education is important to not only their families but to our entire community.

The passage of Denton ISD’s largest bond election was an incredible effort by a lot of people. Leading the charge was a 36-member 2013 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, which was appointed by the trustees to develop, prioritize and make recommendations for new construction projects, renovations and other areas of concern arising from community input.

This committee, headed by co-chairmen Tim Crouch and Mike Woods, has worked for the past seven months studying growth trends, looking at existing buildings and prioritizing the district’s future needs.

The momentum was contagious as this committee informed the thousands of voters who reside in the 15 cities, communities and municipalities that are within Denton ISD’s 180 square miles. Concerned citizens hosted public forums and clubs and other organizations invited us to speak to their groups. Sonic even sponsored two fine arts extravaganzas showcasing choirs from eight of our schools.

I want to thank the residents from the U.S. Highway 380 corridor, who have been waiting patiently for years for a high school in their area. This group of voters turned out in record numbers with some precincts voting more than 90 percent in favor of the bond election.

On the other side of the district, the majority of the Robson Ranch residents and other grandparents in the district, voted for the bond election. Many of them have a strong passion and devotion to the students in our district.

More than 60 Robson residents mentor students every week and dozens of others support various special programs, such as teaching McMath Middle School students how to play “pickle ball.” Also, a retired teachers group sponsors events for the Borman Elementary School teachers.

For all those who helped inform our community about this bond package, the board extends a huge, huge thanks. Their support and diligence, which will result in more schools and greater energy efficiencies for our district, was phenomenal. I am extremely proud to be part of a community that places such a high priority on the education of our students.

CHARLES STAFFORD is president of the Denton school board of trustees.

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